Our recent cold snap is a brisk reminder about how critical window coverings and plantation shutters are for keeping your home warm and cozy. These “holes” in our insulated walls are pathways for frigid open air trying to pry its way in and for internal heat seeking escape into the great outdoors. Doors and windows are critical portals. Insulating them is our first line of defense. When you pay attention to them we’ll enjoy consistent comfort and real cost savings.
Here are some key tips on how to insulate your windows and shutters for chilly Las Vegas winter months..
The first step is to assess just how real and big a problem you have. Inspect around all your doors and interior window shutters. Look for gaps and holes, frayed weather-stripping, ill-fitting thresholds and sills, cracked and broken glass. Do not forget to inspect the garage, especially the entry door into the house.
Other areas worthy of inspection include the gaps under sinks where pipes and plumbing come through walls. Hardcore, consummate heat sink hunters take a look at HVAC duct work and go up on roofs to check for gaps and leaks around the pipes and tin work up there.
Next, go to your local home improvement center or big box store and purchase the appropriate needs. Make a list before you go to be sure nothing is forgotten. And be sure to include work gloves, tools, and clean up supplies. The critical things you will need might include caulk, spray foam, insulated batting, weather stripping, silicone or polyurethane sealant, door draft guards, and possibly new thresholds or door hinges.
Now let’s get to work!
Use caulk to fill in gaps around window frames, windowsills, and door jams. Some folks prefer using spray foam for this but know that this spray foam is unwieldy to use. It expands as it disperses, so when you want visually clean, flat surfaces, avoid spray foam. Should you encounter large gaps between walls and frames, you might consider snipping shapes of insulation or batting and plugging the holes with it and then caulking on top. When using batting, do not stuff and pack it in tightly. It works best when it remains fluffy. In truth, spray insulation is often the fastest, easiest, and best option for these situations. Be aware that quality, fluffy spray insulation, properly applied can be pricey.
Now when it comes to caulk, invest in a good grade. Read the label and be sure it does not shrink and that it will remain pliable. Note: “remain pliable.” Some caulks are overly sticky. When you see a home or situation with seams of beige, dusty colored caulk around doors and windows, that is what happened. Someone used a really cheap, sticky caulk that attracts and captures floating dust.
Check to be sure the caulk you select is paintable, if that is your desire. There are some caulks that reject paint and that’s a problem when you wish to keep continuity of color.
Apply weather stripping around the sides and tops of door jams. Weather stripping for windows typically comes in two types: the best type has a sticky adhesive backing, and if you can still find it, the other is one that is nailed down with tiny brads. To apply nail down weatherstripping, it’s usually easier to remove the entire door, nail the weather stripping in, and then re-hang the door. Really finicky people do the same thing when applying adhesive weather stripping.
Consider specialty window coverings like storm windows or interior insulation kits. In truth, you won’t see a lot of storm windows in use in southern Nevada. The weather is just not severe enough to warrant them. You typically see these used in parts of the country that experience gale force winds combined with driven snow or rain. We just don’t experience enough precipitation or inclement weather to justify their use for custom shutters. The other drawback is the annual installation and removal that happens, as well as cleaning issues.
How many layers are adequate?
The number of window layers depends upon your stylistic eye and the number of barriers you wish to put between incoming heat and cold. Obviously, the more layers used the better the barrier to drafts, incoming sunlight, visual privacy from outside, and blowing dust. Most people use one to two layers and consider three the maximum. When you step up to four layers, it gets very busy. Too many layers make windows “heavy,” pulling eyes into them like an overly large bookcase on a wall. This many layers only tend to work in rooms with very heavy, baroque furniture or a lot of wall coverings like pictures, tapestries, or shelves.
What are some good layering techniques?
A common choice for layering is full or side curtains. You can use a similar style and simply alter colors as you go along to better match each room. They’re easy to mount and hang and quite affordable, if you will shop around.
Soft treatments can be a nice touch. This is where, for example, you wrap up core shapes, like long rectangles, in a fabric and mount them like accent pieces right next to the windows. The size, textures, and colors create visual highlights and add a visual layer.
Over window valances can be used the same way.
Some people mount shades at the top of shutters when they want ultimate light blockage. This look is an acquired taste for most for sure.
Now, some people actually prefer breaking the window up by using different types of coverings on the same window, say shutters on the bottom half and shades or blinds on the top half. You have to be especially adroit at attempting this or call in a strong interior designer to help.
All in all, pay attention to colors and patterns. And stay true to your overarching theme whether it is traditional, playful, inventive, or intrusively bold.
Before you get too far down the road, why not contact the internationally known design consultants at Best Buy Shutters? They have already helped thousands of southern Nevadans just like you. Their help is free. It’s worth taking a look because you’ve got nothing to lose. They’ll bring free fabric and shutter design samples, hardware options, pictures of various styles and installations, and a wealth of expertise.